Oxford’s all-male a capella group Out of the Blue has released a new single and video – a cover of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber’s ‘Stuck with U’, to raise money for Helen & Douglas House. In locations ranging from beaches in Amsterdam, to in front of the Hong Kong skyline, to valleys in Wales, and even in front of the Radcliffe Camera, the group recorded and filmed on their phones.
“Whilst it was certainly a challenge not being able to rehearse together, there were moments where it felt like all the boys were back in Oxford again,” said member Jonty McConnaughie. With the help of Anna Whitmore (Director), Olivia Webster (Producer) and Garbriella Farah (Director of Photography and Editor), the group managed to create a cohesive video from their respective lockdown locations. The video currently has over 6000 views.
Speaking to Cherwell, the group’s president Rory Naylor elaborated on their choice of song: “I’m personally really glad to have a proper duet in our repertoire…I’ve wanted Out of the Blue to do one since joining in 2017!” He continued that the song “reflect[s] how a lot of people are feeling during lockdown”.
The video aims to raise funds for Helen & Douglas House – the world’s first children’s hospice, based near Oxford. The group has been donating all profits to the charity for over a decade, as well as collecting at their gigs, totalling over £150,000 of donations.
Naylor told Cherwell that the group visits the hospice “at least twice a year to spend time with the children and their families and, obviously, perform to them!” Helen & Douglas House has also had to become more inventive with its fundraising efforts in lockdown, selling masks and marking Children’s Hospice Week 2020 on YouTube.
Out of the Blue said that they “hope that the video will live up to the brilliant work of their predecessors and raise as much as possible for Helen & Douglas House during this difficult time.”
Out of the Blue had previously planned a lavish concert to celebrate the twentieth birthday of the group, originally founded by a Harvard graduate studying at Oxford. Throughout the years, Out of the Blue has performed on Britain’s Got Talent, received support from Shakira, became the Edinburgh Fringe’s highest-grossing non-professional act, and was described by the Daily Telegraph as “a capella royalty”.
Naylor said: “We are, of course, gutted that we don’t get to properly celebrate Out of the Blue’s 20th birthday. However, most of the work that we put into planning the three day event for all 150 alumni has been easily transferred over to next year… which I guess is going to have to be even bigger to make up for the year delay!”
Out of the Blue, along with many other societies in Oxford, are struggling with preparing for next term while unsure of what restrictions will be in place once October arrives: “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that we can audition and rehearse together in October. It seems unlikely that theatres will be open before 2021 which is slightly worrying given that we do have quite significant running costs. However, we will continue to be creative.”